Former Travis Co. Deputy appealing decision to uphold termination

The "end of watch" monument for Travis County Deputy Jessica Hollis sits among the trees on the quiet Fritz Hughes Park Road.
The 35-year-old's patrol car was swept away by floodwaters in September of 2014.
"It was Hell.  It was the most torrential downpour I've ever experienced," said John Loughran.

Loughran, a Sgt. at the time and Hollis's superior officer, painfully recalls the night -- and then recovering her body days later.

Loughran spoke at Hollis's funeral as well.

3 years later, Loughran is fighting to get his job back.

Loughran says he actually didn't know Hollis all that well but soon after her death he was moved to another shift.

"That's when I think that I went into a depression almost.  I was fine at work, I was taking care of things at work.  My home life, honestly I was depressed, I stayed in bed, I couldn't get out of bed," Loughran said.

Loughran says he helps maintain Hollis's end of watch memorial and one day, had an idea.

"While maintaining it I saw the back is away from the roadway, it's porous stone it's not finished like the other 3 sides and I thought you know that looks like a canvas to me," Loughran said.

Loughran says with the advice of mental health professionals, he wrote a note to his fallen deputy on the back with a sharpie.

"That's obviously a sign of a feeling of guilt. She was the one I was responsible for or felt responsible for as her Sgt.  She came to that shift...because of me," he said.

For the note, Loughran received an administrative complaint from the sheriff's office.

"I was threatened with criminal mischief on a public monument which is a felony.  They started an internal affairs case.  I was told it would be reviewed by the county attorney and the district attorney," he said.

Loughran says after his third 'fit for duty' report, a doctor he says he was unfamiliar with, didn't think he should be working.

"When that report came back he found me not fit for duty.  And when I read it, he was not describing me.  I mean it was just a terrible report that when I read it I thought 'this person shouldn't be in law enforcement,'" Loughran said.

Sheriff Sally Hernandez terminated Loughran earlier this year after that report.  After a near 10-hour hearing last month, the Travis County Civil Service Commission upheld the Hernandez decision.

Loughran and his attorney have appealed in district courts.  Partly to get his job back -- but Loughran also wants to help other law enforcement officers struggling with mental health.

"There are so many people that I know at the Sheriff's office personally that are hurting, that are afraid to come forward and even now they're not going to come forward because I am the example," he said.

Loughran says after the third report that showed him unfit for duty, he paid for a fourth evaluation.
That doctor said he is fit for duty.  But by that time he had already been terminated.

We did speak with the Travis County Sheriff's office today.  Because of the medical nature of this situation, they were unable to officially comment.